Back when I was a kid (hey there I go again…I mean a child?), we used to address adults as Mr. So and So or Mrs. So and So and then in the 60’s on campus women by Ms. (pronounced /Miz/) to symbolize a breakdown of an age-old gender barrier. These were ways of showing respect, acknowledging the generational gaps and demonstrating that I knew how to be polite. The other day a young 10 year-old child called me “Debby” (he had heard other adult friends calling me by my nickname). I was at the same time flattered and feeling young once again but also a bit taken-aback that this young person didn’t consider me old enough to be his mother…that is to say…that I could be his mother. But listening around me I noticed that more and more children were calling their parents by their first names and/or their nicknames and dropping the traditional “role-call” names that we all have at certain times of our lives (Mommy or Mom, Granddad or Grandpa, Aunt or Uncle, and the list goes on). Now children call their Grandparents “Dad” or “Mom” and their own parents Dave or Judy…. Could it be that we don’t want to grow up or get old?
But if we look further afield, and in the field of corpus linguistics we must do so, we notice that as in the family circle, so goes the social world and of course the workplace. Women want to be consider equals, everyone wants to be treated the same in a team, junior and senior executives must collaborate, and newcomers and old comers alike are competing against each other…we see that more and more addressing people by their first name is now the norm in corporate America (although we have to be careful when we go abroad…as some other countries still hang on to class barriers…and deferential treatment of certain members of society although even in British society the ‘Sirs’ and ‘Ma’ams’ are being dropped or scoffed at as the Anglosaxon world culture blends together). But in a purely “everyone is created equal” or egalitarian society…this familiarity destroys the last bastions of age, class, business, walls (and ceilings?) and levels the playing field. As with any type of familiarity we all stand on the same stage…ready to play together…ready to treat everyone the same without any pre-conceived ideas about how we should act towards one another until getting to know each other a little bit better…bringing those down from their pedestals to make them more accessible and those looking up, less intimidated to jump in the fray and present their new ideas making everyone’s contributions more valuable in today’s digital age But this shift echoes the larger move to a more open, informal, and egalitarian business culture. Those who wish to keep their “name tags” will only be left behind and considered “social dinosaurs” who will be buried by others who embrace this new corporate and social culture. So…what’s up Mrs. Jones? Ah…that still doesn’t stop me from enjoying one of the most beautiful love songs from the early 70’s sung by Billy Paul…”Me And Mrs. Jones” was a number-one single originally performed by soul singer Billy Paul, recorded and released in 1972 on Philadelphia International Records. The single, included on the album “360 Degrees Of Billy Paul”, was written by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. It describes an extramarital affair between a man and his lover, Mrs. Jones…another barrier which has come down….notice the use of the familiar contractions which indicate…what else?… familiarity!…(for a glossary go to my website: DebbysCorner).
Me and Mrs.Jones…we got a thing goin’ on. We both know that it’s wrong but it’s much too strong to let it go now.
We meet every day at the same cafe…Six-thirty and no one knows she’ll be there. Holding hands, making all kinds of plans while the juke box plays our favorite songs.
Me and Mrs. Jones…we got a thing goin’ on. We both know that it’s wrong but it’s much too strong to let it go now. We gotta be extra careful that we don’t build our hopes up too high because she’s got her own obligations and so, and so, do I.
Me and Mrs.Jones…We got a thing goin’ on. We both know that it’s wrong but it’s much too strong to let it go now.
Well, it’s time for us to be leaving. It hurts so much, it hurts so much inside. Now she’ll go her way and I’ll go mine. Tomorrow we’ll meet…the same place, the same time
Me and Mrs. Jones…we got a thing goin’ on. We both know that it’s wrong but it’s much too strong to let it go now.